Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller to Introduce County-Wide Property Tax Incentive Program to Address Food Deserts

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller to Introduce County-Wide Property Tax Incentive Program to Address Food Deserts

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller to Introduce County-Wide Property Tax Incentive Program to Address Food Deserts (Cook County, IL) – Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller of the 6th District will introduce an ordinance at the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting today, Thursday September 22nd, to attract new grocery stores into food deserts in Cook County.

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Patricia Bonk for State Rep

The ordinance will amend Cook County’s Property Tax Incentive Program to include real estate used for the expansion or renovation of an existing grocery store or the use of a vacant commercial space for a grocery store located in a food desert. Food deserts are identified by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and include locations lacking fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, in part due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or healthy food providers. This ordinance is part of Commissioner Miller’s broader work to address disparities in health in the South Suburbs and Cook County as a whole.

Healthcare Outcomes

“Improving healthcare outcomes and reducing the disparities present in the Southland and across Cook County begins with making sure everyone in Cook County has convenient and local access to fresh produce and food,” said Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller. “By incentivizing the development of grocery stores in areas of Cook County that already suffer from economic stagnation, we can help bring healthy food to our neighborhoods that our residents need to keep them and their families healthy. We can’t wait any longer to address this critical need, and I look forward to discussing this ordinance further in the Business and Economic Development Committee in October.”

One of the main pillars of Cook County’s Policy Roadmap and American Rescue Plan Act is to promote healthy communities by addressing food insecurity and food access. Illinois has 870 low-income and low access census tracts where urban residents must travel more than 1/2 mile, and rural residents must travel more than 10 miles to the nearest supermarket; the county with the greatest number of tracts is Cook County with 302.

Access to healthy food directly contributes to disparities in health outcomes and life expectancy, a correlation that increases the need for Commissioner Miller’s ordinance. The measures incorporated in the amendment have been determined by many academic and non-profit studies to be an effective strategy for advocating for sustainable development in urban areas while also restricting the potential for abuse.

Background in Healthcare

Since she first took office in 2019, Commissioner Miller has made it a priority to use her background in the healthcare industry to shine a spotlight on the disparities in access to healthcare in Cook County. She recently released a new report, “Cardiovascular Health in the Southland,” which examines the impacts of location and race on cardiovascular disease survival and outcomes in suburban Cook County to help guide how decision makers can improve health outcomes. Commissioner Miller has helped implement in-person CPR and AED training and virtual CPR and AED training for Cook County employees, an initiative that won a 2022 National Association of Counties Achievement Award. Hundreds of employees along with elected officials and department heads have taken part in the “Hands-Only” CPR/AED training.

The Cook County Board’s Business and Economic Committee will consider the ordinance in October.

Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller to Introduce County-Wide Property Tax Incentive Program to Address Food Deserts

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Monica Gordon for Cook County Commissioner

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